Newport Beach mayor outlines vision for 'doing the right thing'

For newly appointed Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon, being on the City Council means more than casting a vote on a single issue.

Dixon became mayor in December, about a year after being elected to the council as part of a slate of four candidates known as Team Newport. She used her State of the City address Thursday night to highlight goals for the coming year and introduce her way of thinking about city government.

Ideas and plans presented in the past year by members of Team Newport often have bumped against the ideologies of some council veterans, sometimes leading to colorful discussions and arguments among council members.

"Newport Beach is made up of more than just one group, one neighborhood, one idea or philosophy," Dixon said. "It is composed of people who are smart, who get things done, who love their city, who are involved in their city and would not live anywhere else and yet who have different points of view on the many issues of the day."

Dixon, who moved to Newport from Pasadena about five years ago, kicked off her address at the 35th annual Speak Up Newport Mayor's Dinner at the Newport Beach Marriott with a video taking the audience through a brief history of her life before entering city politics.

One of her key experiences was working in the private sector as an executive at label maker Avery Dennison, where she was responsible for the company's global communications and government relations. She said that role shaped her view of how to successfully implement public policy.

"I believe that I have to be responsible to the people who put me here, just as I would be to shareholders and investors," she said. "That means I must listen, respect our residents and business owners, be transparent and rigorously protect our fiscal house. Then doing the right thing on particular issues follows naturally."

Dixon said the city is in "excellent shape," pointing to solid finances and projections of rising revenue from property, sales and lodging occupancy taxes.

However, there is still work to do, she said.

She outlined her strategy to update the Harbor Master Plan for capital expenditures related to sea walls, dredging and El Niño management, assist in the process of hiring a new police chief and focus on improving infrastructure at Balboa Peninsula, West Newport and Mariner's Mile.

Dixon said she is reminded of the importance of city leaders when she sees people in line at City Hall with home remodeling plans or seeking a new business permit, or enjoying the library, parks and beaches.

"I see in these things the concrete results of our animated debates and discussions, our votes and actions as council members past and present," she said. "And how we touch the lives and affect the fortunes of our friends and neighbors, the people of Newport Beach. I know that our job as elected officials is to create a city where people can dream, can act and can thrive, and I will listen. And then get out of the way and let them do it."

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